Welcome to suburbia

I've finally plucked up the courage to set-up an online blog. I'm going to endeavour to blog as often as possible to share my thoughts, to share some articles and news i find interesting, and also use it for my private reflections (you guys won't get to see that!). Also i hope people will read and comment on some of my posts.

The spur for deciding to set-up a blog has been my studies through the Open University. They encourage learning and reflection, and collaborating with others.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Deloitte: Technology, Media and Telecommunications predictions

Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of battling snow and ice to get to Deloitte’s Luxembourg office out near the local airport. The presentation was ably led by Paul Lee, Global Director of TMT Research, and the man responsible for gathering the information that makes the predictions possible (80% success rate in the last two years!). I won’t go into the detail of how the predictions are sourced from Industry and then tested with in consumer markets for adoption, you can find out more about that on their dedicated internet site

Instead I’ll list some of his key predictions, and then riff off them below:

Bring your own computer- Very few additional companies will adopt a policy.
Why? Because it relies on companies providing a voucher or subsidy for the employee to buy a PC, hence this is very different to the BYOD trend. That subsidy is a taxable benefit and so it increases costs to the employer; as a result of these two factors only 5% of companies have a BYOC policy. Additionally there is an emerging requirement for BYO IT, as technical support is not easily provided to a range of non-standard operating systems and hardware. But perhaps the most significant barrier (in my humble opinion) is privacy; would you sign up to companies being able to delve into your personal files? But what about VPN I hear you cry? Sadly bandwidth required for high quality VPN is not universally available, and so this may erode the productivity gains that have been forecast for flexible working.

The end of strong password security- The rise of multi-factor authentication.

Why? You can now crack a complex password (e.g. H@rvard567!) with equipment that can be bought for $10k. Also the hackers have moved towards obtaining the master password files from organisations with the intention of decrypting them. In fact Deloitte predict that more than 90% of “strong” passwords are at risk, and a recent study has shown that use of the 10,000 most popular passwords accounts for 98.1% of all in use. So how is this going to be tackled? Multi-factor authentication (not two step as Google et al have been introducing). Examples include a password sent to a register mobile, dongles, biometric etc.
I appreciate the irony, as whilst I was writing this my Yahoo! Account was hacked from Japan, Russia and Romania, and spam sent out to my contacts…. Apologies all!

Over 1 billion smartphones will be shipped this year.

This was interesting purely from a stat and usage perspective. There is a lot of buzz in industry at the moment about going mobile, and the increasing focus on producing mobile compatible interfaces. I’ll admit I struggle with practical application of some stuff in a mobile device; I personally feel more comfortable viewing emails on a tablet, but tend to respond to them on a Laptop… Anyway couple of key things Paul said about mobile;
  • There will be 1.9 billion smartphones in use by the end of 2013
  •  20% of those users may never (or less than once a week) connect their device to the internet through wifi or cellular network.
  • Hundreds of millions of users won’t have a data package!
  • 400 million smartphones’ usage will resemble that of a feature phone (makes calls, texts etc)

This is partly because of high charges for roaming and data usage (see next segment) but is also due to smartphones being handed down (or up, I’m not quite sure) to the older generation; effectively Grandparents will be given the gift of smartphones once their children or grandkids get bored of theirs. As an aside Paul pointed out that they will be used like feature phones also because…. No one is making feature phones anymore!
All you can app (AYCA)

Is a fixed monthly subscription to replace data plans and download limits. Put simply most punters (or consumers) can’t tell the difference (file size wise) between a 30 sec clip of video, music, or web browsing, and thus metered billing is toast! As once they realise how expensive it is to watch live sport (cost price is $10 per GB, but billed to consumers at less than $5 per unit) the market for it will evaporate! So the solution appears to be AYCA; typically bundling social networks together (a bit like cable TV does with channels) and movie services and/or spotify (or other music service providers) for a monthly fee. This is expected to be popular in local income economies with India’s Reliance telecom taking a lead. One of the most interesting case studies is that of Globe Telecom’s (Phillipines) partnership with Google; providing free access to Google services (search, Gmail etc) and the websites navigated too from a Google search… hmmm.

Enterprise Social Networks

This really piqued my interest, mainly (full disclosure) because OpenText has just launched its own ESN internally with the intention of delivering it to the Enterprise. Bullet point observations:

  •          90% of Fortune 500’s will have at least partially implemented an ESN
  •           Only 1/3 of users will read content once a week
  •      With only 40% posting at least once a month
  •           We’ve had intranets since the early nineties, and yet they have hardly garnered high usage stats
  •      On a related note the ratio of TV watching (western Europe) vs. times spent on Social networks is still 40:1

Reasons for these startling numbers are varied; time obviously ranks fairly high, struggling to keep up with another social network feed, and not knowing how to use it…. Hang on what?

Well as crazy as it may seem that last point is key. I’ve been in two companies that have launched ESN’s and both times they’ve suffered from the “why?” question. In a bank I worked in they launched an ESN to encourage collaboration; this really struggled early on as the majority of staff in a bank don’t need to collaborate, they need to follow policy and procedure (note: collaboration is what got the LIBOR traders into trouble… although I appreciate the tenuous cause and effect). Those that do need to collaborate… already do. They’ve not been sitting around scratching their heads wondering why their global project is struggling to get off the ground; they’ve probably been using email and voice conferencing.

There is also the Facebook LinkedIn paradox (not sure if that is the right term), is the ESN for sharing pictures of cats and weekend plans? Or is it to make connections and share business data or business value adding content? In both ESN implementations the answer to that question has been left up to the wisdom of crowds…. With predictable results; The bank ESN felt like entering a dangerous world where a wrong comment or observation could be met with swift retribution from HR, the opposite is true in software (600 communities? How can I navigate that!) where pretty much anything goes.     

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against ESNs. I think they are an evolving force for good. However as Deloitte point out, employees could do with a guide, there should be some loose principles, and it should be aligned if not embedded with existing business processes. If these things don’t happen then over time the tool will wither and die.

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